2. You find out that you will die in five years or less. How do you find this out? What do you do with those last five years? (Andrew Kinder, 1000 Awesome Writing Prompts)
We ArE coMinG fOr You. yOu HavE fiVe YeaRs leFt to liVe. ThEN youR DeBt is DuE.
I reread the magazine letter clipped note again. I found it on my door four years earlier. I knew who it was from, I knew why it was there, and I knew without a doubt in one year, I would be dead. When I first got the note, I didn’t believe it. They couldn’t have found me. We made a deal, but then I hid, changed my name, my looks, moved across the world. I hid the note for a long time from my wife. She wouldn’t understand the deal, or the death sentence. She would be devastated. Last year I told her.
I woke up, took out the note and set it on the bed. I went to make coffee and bring her a cup to help get through the conversation we were about to have. She was awake when I returned, but hadn’t seen the note. It had fallen to the floor. It was my chance to just let it go, to die in two years and have her find out and mourn for me the way most widows do. The burden was too much. I needed to tell someone. Picking the note off the floor, I handed it to her.
“What’s this?” she said, her smile fading as she read it.
“What is this? Is this some kind of joke?” I took her hand, and started talking. I was amazed at the pace I used to explain everything. When I was finished, tears rolled down her cheeks, and she asked the one question I knew she needed to know, but I didn’t want to answer.
“How long ago did you receive this letter? You are too calm for it have been today. Please don’t tell me it was five years ago.”
“No,” I said, “It was three. I have two more years.”
We spent the rest of the morning in bed. Her asking me questions, me being completely honest about my past, and the dogs snoring. Around noon, I dozed off. When I awoke, she was gone. For a moment I thought she left me and was gone for good, but then I heard bustling downstairs and her voice as she chastised the dogs for barking.
I got myself ready for the day, and went downstairs. Across our table where maps, and travel books, her computer had thirty-two tabs open to different hotels and cities.
“What is this?” I asked.
“You have two years right?” she said
“Can we not talk about this anymore?”
“You have two years?”
“Then that simply ruins all the plans I had for traveling together when we retire, because you will be gone by then. So I have decided that we will spend the next two years in retirement, and when you are gone and I have mourned you, I will go back to work. I’ve already checked the retirement accounts, we have enough sitting in our life insurance. We can do it. We can travel wherever we want.” She said.
“What if I want to stay here and just see you?”
“Cheesy. I will allot time for us to relax at home.” She proceeded to tell me her list of places to visit over the next two years. She asked if there was anywhere I wanted to add. I told her no. Then came what I was waiting for:
“In exactly two years we will be in Tokyo. Amidst millions of other people. They will just have to wait until we get home for you to pay your debt. Or maybe they will just give up and leave you alone.”
“That’s not how it works, sweetie. If that’s what all this is about, I appreciate it, but no matter where I am, two years from today they will get what they are owed.”
She sighed, more tears flowed.
“Well,” she said at least, “get the checkbook, this is too much for me to organize without a professional’s assistance. We are going to the travel agent.”
A year has past since that day. Right now we are on some private tropical beach in the Pacific. There are others on the island, but this beach hut and white sand shore we have completely to ourselves. She made me promise never to reminder her how much time was left, but to pretend that this two year vacation is infinite. She even went as far as to plan – although not book – trips after the two year mark to make it seem real.
Maybe she thinks it is real. Maybe it is what she needs to wake up and not cry, but I know she sometimes does. Whatever the next year holds, in one year I will be home – I made her promise to have us at home – and then, I will be gone and she will be free.